Municipal laws and policies affect the social, economic, and legal conditions of civic and private lives of immigrants in profound ways, including both direct access to health services, as well as broader social determinants, such as employment, housing, education, transportation, and law enforcement.
Community Justice and Public Safety
Amid a growing national conversation on equity and social justice, city and county governments are using tools to identify racial and ethnic disparities in their communities. These insights can then inform the development and implementation of laws and policies designed to minimize disparities and maximize positive impacts on racial and ethnic minorities.
Like many communities in the U.S., the Twin Cities metropolitan area has become increasingly vocal around social justice—exposing and documenting local poverty, inequity, and discrimination. Amid this wave, Hennepin County is actively seeking out population health policy opportunities to engage high-risk families and children, with the goal of developing and implementing upstream, cross-sector interventions to preserve unified, healthy families and avoid out of home placements (i.e., foster care).
Each day in the U.S. there are approximately half a million individuals detained while awaiting trial. This high rate of pretrial detention may be due both to the widespread use of monetary bail, and to the limited financial resources of most defendants. Less than 50 percent of defendants in the U.S. are able to post bail even when it is set at $5,000 or less. While some defendants are detained for only a few days, others are detained for the entire period prior to the final dispositions of their cases.
In many jurisdictions, offenders who commit relatively minor offenses are arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the criminal law. Yet subjecting these offenders to pretrial detention, post-conviction incarceration, and searchable arrest and conviction records, may have hidden social costs.
In recent decades, the “broken windows” approach to policing has led several large U.S. cities to employ the proactive policing program known as “Stop, Question, and Frisk” (SQF). The New York City Police Department (NYPD) made over 5 million such stops between 2002 and 2016.
In 2016, the Chicago Police Department developed a pilot pre-arrest diversion strategy, the Westside Narcotics Diversion and Treatment Initiative (WNDTI), to respond to the opioid crisis in underserved Chicago neighborhoods. The goal was to encourage police officers to redirect low-level drug offenders (users and sellers) to treatment, instead of jail and prosecution. This strategy was modeled after a promising program in Seattle, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).